Student Spotlight: Uma Chidambaram

Name: Uma Chidambaram
Major(s): Sociology & Economics
Cultural Background: Indian American
Class Year: 2013


Tell us about yourself:

My friends tell me that I am a perfectionist, an overachiever, or they just tell me I’m crazy. I work until all hours of the night and frequent Zaya’s for numerous study-breaks. If I controlled the earth’s orbit, there would be 25 hours in a day and eight days in a week. My second home is campus; I spend more time in the halls of academia than in the archeological dig site that is my bedroom. My third home is clearly the Starbucks as 75% of my body mass is no longer water but a medley of caffeinated beverages. Also, I am a firm believer that the common saying “the early bird catches the worm” is a fallacy. My inability to wake up early is unparalleled and my love-hate relationship with my snooze button has worn on me through college, though I have managed to get by pretty well. Regardless, I plan to master the art of my alarm clock by the time I graduate.


How and when did you first become interested in your field of study?

I fell in love with sociology on day one of my undergraduate career. I took SOC 101 on a whim my freshman year and have never looked back. My professor, Dr. Mike McQuaide, continually challenged me to assume nothing and think of everyday situations in a new light. His class forced me to rip apart everything I thought I knew and put it back together, piece by piece. My sociological endeavors since then have taken me from maximum security prisons in Atlanta to the shamans of the Ecuadorian Amazon. As I continued to learn about social problems and search for explanations, I kept coming back to the issue of poverty. I realized then that to be able to have an intelligent, credible conversation about this issue, I would have to be able to follow the money and understand the numbers behind it. Enter economics.


Why did you choose Emory and what do you enjoy most about Emory?

I chose Emory because I fell in love with Oxford College! Since my time here, though, I’ve also fallen in love with Emory because of the community. There are so many diverse students on campus, and I am proud to say that I am constantly meeting people on a day to day basis. Emory is big enough where you can meet new people, yet still recognize and know people walking to class everyday. Every student I’ve met at Emory is involved with a group whether it’s be community service, Greek life, religious life, cultural, interest, etc. The fact that Emory students are so passionate about their clubs and extracurriculars shows how dedicated the Emory student body is to making their college experience a balanced and fun one.


Why did you choose to get involved in OMPS and what do you like most about the office?

I got involved in OMPS through Crossroads (quick shout out to my fellow Invincible Ironmen!) and am so glad I did. OMPS creates a sense of belonging that permeates throughout all aspects of campus (alumni, staff, faculty, students) and fosters the individual growth and unity of the Emory community through experiences that integrate self-awareness, intercultural communication skills, and social justice education. It has shown me time and time again that acknowledging our differences is not about separating people but about learning from new perspectives and understanding the social realities that exist. Once we can better understand this, we can more substantively be better, more informed allies to one another.

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